Chapter 6:1-4 (ESV) - Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Question to consider: Why is it so hard for us to obey?
In this letter Paul has driven home the wonderful message that God has sovereignly brought salvation to people from every tribe and nation by His grace through faith in His Son. In response to this, Paul called the Ephesians (and by extension all believers) to live like God’s redeemed children bringing light into a dark world. Instead of spending our time and energy pursuing pleasure and material possessions, Paul emphasized that we sacrificially love and submit to the Lord and one another. For children, this sacrificial love and submission is found in obedience to our parents. Fathers are given the responsibility of bringing their children up in the Lord’s instruction, and just as God has shown grace to us in this process, fathers are charged to act similarly toward their children.
Throughout scripture God has defined love through the keeping of His commands. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, God told Israel, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” In John 14:15, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Why does God define love through obedience? Ultimately, God desires for us to be holy so that we may live eternally with Him. Since we were not able to achieve this kind of holiness in ourselves, Jesus kept the Law for us, and exchanged His righteousness for our sin on the cross.
It is in our nature to rebel against God and one another, for we (as Adam’s children) want to decide right and wrong for ourselves rather than submit to the authority whom God has put over us. God is not some unjust tyrant. If everyone were able to perfectly obey His commands, the world would thrive and experience the true peace that comes from living in harmony with God and one another. John Lennon of the Beatles pondered the opposite in his song, “Imagine,” arguing that the world could only live in harmony if people obeyed his law rather than the law of God. Outside of being an arrogant thing to posit, John Lennon was obviously mistaken, for unlike Jesus, his body is still in the grave.
Dear heavenly father, please forgive us for going our own way rather than diligently following Your commands, and please help us to forgive those who have failed to love us in the way that You have called. Thank You that Christ is not just our example but our righteousness. May we continue to grow closer to Him. Amen.